Cancer Prevention Guidelines Also Helpful Against Other Diseases
Article date: April 19, 2011
By Eleni Berger
Eating Right, Exercising Lower Risk of Death from Heart Disease, Other Causes
Following the American Cancer Society’s diet and exercise guidelines for cancer prevention can help reduce your risk of death from heart disease and other causes, too, ACS researchers report in a new study.
What’s more, the more closely you follow the guidelines, the greater the benefit you’re likely to see.
Details of the Guidelines
The American Cancer Society’s Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention focus on 4 main areas:
• Maintaining a healthy body weight (BMI between 18.5 and 24.9) throughout life
• Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, above and beyond normal activities, every day
• Eating a healthy diet with at least 5 servings of vegetables and fruits daily; whole grains instead of processed ones; and limiting red and processed meats
• Limiting alcohol intake to no more than 1 drink a day for women or 2 for men, if you drink at all
The researchers looked at how closely people in a large cancer prevention study followed each of these recommendations over 14 years. There were nearly 112,000 participants, all of them non-smokers. By studying only non-smokers, the researchers were better able to gauge the impact of these other lifestyle habits independent of smoking, which has a huge impact on death from cancer and other diseases.
Higher Scores, Lower Risk of Death
Each participant was assigned points based on how closely they followed each recommendation, with higher scores meaning closer adherence to the guidelines.
Fewer than 5% of people followed all 4 recommendations optimally. Those who did had a significantly lower risk of death from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and all causes when compared to people who followed the guidelines least closely.
Keeping a healthy body weight seemed to have the most impact on death risk from cancer, heart disease, and all causes. Being overweight or obese is linked to several types of cancer, as well as heart disease and diabetes.
The advice to eat better, exercise more and stay at a healthy weight is not new; many health organizations have similar guidelines.
“But what this study showed,” says lead author Marji McCullough, ScD, RD, “was that they can have a major impact on reducing risk of mortality and death from cancer.” McCullough is strategic director of nutritional epidemiology at the American Cancer Society.
The study is published online in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff
Citation: "Following cancer prevention guidelines reduces risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality." Published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention Online First April 5, 2011. First author: Marjorie McCullough, ScD, RD, American Cancer Society.
Thank you for your feedback.